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6 of the most shocking trick-or-treat crimes

Menacing Halloween pumpkins surrounded by smoke

Halloween is supposed to be a scary, spooky time. Of course, in reality, it’s far from it. While the celebration has its roots dating back thousands of years in arcane Pagan tradition and comes with plenty of unsettling imagery, nowadays it’s not much more than a chance for kids to grab some free sweets.

However, while the most famous aspect of Halloween - the ‘trick-or-treating’ - is just for children, the door-knocking tradition isn’t entirely benign. In fact, there are plenty of truly shocking crimes that have taken place during this candy-commanding custom. Here are six of the worst ever trick-or-treating crimes.

1. The man who killed Halloween

Ronald Clark O'Bryan pulled off a fiendish trick-or-treat scheme in Huntsville, Texas, back in 1976. He poisoned five pieces of candy with potassium cyanide, all with the intent of murdering his son and four other children in the neighbourhood. The aim was to pin the poisonings on a neighbour, have him arrested and then collect the money from the insurance policy he'd just taken out on his young son’s life.

O’Bryan’s son ate the cyanide-laced sour sweet almost immediately. It had enough poison in it to kill two people. He was hospitalised and confirmed dead within an hour. Fortunately for the other four youngsters, quick-thinking and quick-acting local detectives deduced what had happened and collected the other pieces of candy before they were eaten.

O'Bryan, later dubbed ‘The Man Who Killed Halloween’, was executed on 31st March 1984. Outside the facility, hundreds of local residents yelled ‘Trick or treat!’ and threw Halloween candy at anti-death penalty protesters.

2. The sweets that weren’t really sweets

Tales of kids being given drugs instead of sweets are almost as old as trick-or-treating itself. It’s largely nothing more than rumours spread by worried parents, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t ever happened.

On Halloween night 2018 in Shiremoor, North Tyneside, Amy Dixon's five-year-old daughter Lexi-Mai returned home after going out with some friends and their parents. While Amy was looking through her daughter’s Halloween haul she was shocked to find some ecstasy pills.

Amongst all of the other sweets and chocolate was a small padded brown envelope containing ten pale pink pills stamped with a Superman logo. Convinced they were ecstasy, Amy took them to the police who confirmed her suspicions.

3. The acid ghost

In High Wycombe, also on Halloween evening in 2018, an unnamed man in his 30s answered the familiar knock at his front door. He was greeted by someone simply dressed as a ghost who was holding a bottle of bright pink acid.

When the door opened, the attacker threw the corrosive liquid at the man’s face. Luckily, the victim sustained only relatively minor injuries to his face and feet and wasn’t too badly hurt or scarred.

4. The wrong bags

Donald Junior Green spent 31st October 2012 at his girlfriend's house in Royton, Greater Manchester. As per the occasion, he made sure his coat pocket was full of miniature bags of Haribo sweets for any trick-or-treaters.

A short while later, Green reached into his pocket to get his hands on some of the small bags of cocaine he'd purchased earlier in the day. All he could find were bags of sweets. That’s when he realised he’d mistakingly deposited eight small bags of cocaine into some kids' Halloween bags.

Luckily the children - three siblings - didn't mistake the Class A powder for sherbet, but instead showed it to their Dad, a police officer. Green was given a 12-month community order and sentenced to 130 hours of community work.

5. Halloween night gang hit goes terribly wrong

A 15-year-old boy was charged with attempted murder after shooting a seven-year-old girl in the neck on Halloween 2019 in Chicago. Giselle Zamago got caught in the crossfire of an apparent gang fight while trick-or-treating.

The gunman, who was dressed in a Friday the 13th-style hockey mask, was assumed to be targeting a rival gang member, but instead struck a toddler and a 31-year-old man in the hand. She was sent to the hospital in critical but stable condition. Giselle remained there for two weeks before being released and making a full recovery.

The adolescent gunman was charged with two charges of attempted murder and two counts of battery by firearm discharge.

6. The trick to end all tricks

Peter Fabiano lost his life in 1957 when he opened the door to a trick-or-treater. They were holding a brown paper bag, presumably for candy. But before Peter could complete the traditional transaction, a bullet exploded out of the bag and into his chest, killing him instantly.

Goldyne Pizer and Joan Rabel had conspired to murder him. Allegedly, the two women were in a relationship, and Rabel was also seeing Peter’s wife, Betty. Jealous and angry, she plotted, with Pizer's support, to get Peter out of the picture. Both women pled guilty to murder and were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences.